The Absolute Best Type Of Steak Cuts For Salad

When you crave the fresh flavors, fiber, and nutrients of a salad, but need something that will satisfy as a whole meal, there are plenty of great options, such as a bright Niçoise salad or a rich Cobb salad. But if a strong dose of meatiness is what you seek along with your greens, few things fit the bill better than steak salad. The contrast of umami-rich seared or grilled beef over a verdant salad of crunchy vegetables, vegetables, and other elements makes for a filling, but still fresh lunch or dinner option; a meal that is both hearty and healthful.

There are many different permutations of steak salad from cuisines around the world, so it's safe to say there is no wrong way to approach making one that suits your taste. That said, there are some tips for making an optimal steak salad. One question that arises often is what cut of steak to use. Based on advice from beef producers and personally trying a variety of cuts to make salads, the key factor is fat content.

While richer, more-marbled cuts, like ribeye, have their place, the greasiness and mouthfeel of the fat can unbalance the dish. Leaner cuts though, like flank steak, filet mignon, and sirloin, with their solid beef flavor and relative ease to cook, crown steak salads with aplomb. These cuts become part of the mix rather than the central star of the steak salad, leaving you room to elevate with various greens, vegetables, fruits, nuts, cheeses, and dressings.

Why these cuts work

Flank steak is a go-to salad topper both for its affordability and its lean, yet still prominent flavor. This abdominal cut is fairly uniform and almost devoid of fat, but that hasn't dissuaded chefs from using the delicious cut of beef on menus. The key is to cook it quickly over high heat, searing the outside while leaving the interior succulent and tender. Flank steak also takes well to a marinade that can flavor the meat further and help tenderize. Further, the marinade can help accentuate the flavors of the salad; lime juice, cumin, chiles, garlic, and scallions can dress flank steak for a steak salad with Latin-American flair, or fish sauce, ginger, soy sauce, and rice wine vinegar would be a nice marinade for a Thai-style steak salad.

Filet mignon — a thick slice of beef tenderloin — also works well in steak salad. Filet needs little introduction. This uber-tender, uber-luxe cut costs a pretty penny. But when seared rare or medium-rare it almost melts in the mouth. Consider a piquant rub for filet that when cooked becomes a toothsome crust that mingles well with the fresh vegetables.

Overlooked, though, is sirloin, an inexpensive cut from the backside of the cow. Much like flank steak, sirloin — note there are many cuts that fall under this umbrella — is lean and loves a marinade. A quick turn on a high-heat grill and a thin slice against the grain renders steak that sings in a salad.